Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saving up for Winter

Spiced Apple Butter, Pickled Beets, Dilly Beans!, B&B Pickles

So I feel like a squirrel. But in a good way.

Trevor and I have made our third attempt at canning and are finally seeing some success. In our prior attempts, we used recipes from cookbooks not specifically about canning and preserving. After our neighbors offered us all the apples we could pick from their tree and we realized the apple tree in our backyard was also producing, we didn’t want the apple windfall going to waste. So I started looking for a good canning book.

I browsed through several canning books online and read a few recommendations from The Oregonian. Then I went to the bookstore and decided on purchasing Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff. What I liked most about the book was that it doesn’t scare the reader away by making home canning this scary, arduous process. Some books made it seem as if you needed a laboratory and science degree to can safely. I felt that if people have been canning for generations, then it must be safe otherwise people would stop doing it.

Also, the author has a sense of humor. And it’s beautifully photographed and packed with recipes for every season that I couldn’t wait to try.

We started off making Spiced Apple Butter. After reading the book carefully, I realized I needed some sort of strainer or food mill. The Squeezo strainer recommended by the author cost about $200. So that was out. Then I remembered that there was a fruit and vegetable attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer that I didn’t have, but it worked with the food grinder attachment I did have. And it was around $50. It meant I didn’t have to peel and core six pounds of apples. Sold!

I followed the slow-cooker method for making the apple butter and it worked perfectly. When Trevor came home from work the apple butter was ready for canning. It’s much easier to can with two people. We finished up pretty quickly thinking, “That wasn’t too hard!”

The following weekend Trevor wanted to make Honeyed Bread-and-butter Pickles, Dilly Beans! and Pickled Beets. He brought home Persephone pickling cukes, dill, green beans and beets after his shift at the farmers’ market. Then we got to work.
2nd round: pickled beets & carrots
The pickles and beans turned out perfectly. The Dilly Beans! are my new favorite snack. I used to buy olives from the olive bar at my Fred Meyer to nibble on while making dinner. The Dilly Beans! have taken their place. Along with the Spicy Carrot Pickles we made the following week.

We did mess up our first batch of beets though. We were both working on the brine, (the hot, salty vinegar mixture that’s poured over vegetables to pickle and preserve them) and neither one of us added the water the recipe called for. That makes for very vinegary beets. We did a do-over and they should be fine.

What we learned from Canning for a New Generation and pickling our own vegetables is that we have some freedom with changing the spices if we keep the brine the same. We will be making many more recipes from this book. Also, it’s very satisfying to see the beautiful glass jars lined up on the shelf. That’s what I mean by I feel like a squirrel. Come February when fresh green beans are a distant memory, I’ll be able to pop open a jar of Dilly Beans! and crunch into a wonderfully preserved memory of summer.

1 comment:

  1. The pictures are gorgeous and I'm sure the insides of those jars are delicious.

    You're such a dirty hippie, Denise.